Compassion Rather Than Criticism
As I was surfing the “Net” last night, I came across a BuzzFeed article about a new public awareness campaign called People of Colour and Mental Illness Photo Project.
I was originally going to post a blog on a different topic this week but changed my mind since this photo project is currently trending and it really grabbed my attention.
Mental illness has always had—and let’s be honest, still very much has—a stigma surrounding it. In movies and television, people with mental illness are portrayed as frightening, irrational or unstable, or even comical and absurd. It may be fascinating to look at but only because it’s on a screen, not actually in front of you. This sort of representation is not only contributing to the stigmatization of people struggling with mental illness, but it’s a skewed and exaggerated portrayal. In reality, all different types of people, from all walks of life, can suffer mental illnesses; and they can be any race, gender, or age.
The People of Colour and Mental Illness Photo Project aims to fight that stigma and break it down, specifically with regards to people of color. Participants have a simple photo, often a selfie, taken of them holding a small handwritten blurb summing up their life experience with mental illness and what they personally struggle with. The most empowering aspect of this message isn’t so much their handwritten blurbs, nor their specific illnesses, but really the actual people themselves. They look like people, not “mentally ill people.”
It’s an uphill battle for anyone who can relate to the experiences that people participating in this project are so boldly opening up about, so spread the word (i.e., share the link) about this project, and let’s all remember to practice compassion rather than criticism.